Pick up a book and delve into a new world with our favourite releases of the year.
Following the death of her beloved mother and the breakdown of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed feels lost. With no family to turn to and a horrible heroin addiction nagging at her conscience, Cheryl takes to the wilds of the Pacific Crest Trail, eager to find herself again on a 1,100 mile walk that takes 3 months! Braving rattlesnakes and bears, this novice hiker faces more than she bargained for.
Nicky Hornby has adapted the book for the big screen, with Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl. The actress devoured the tale in a weekend, calling the author immediately to snap up the film rights. Watch the trailer below and be sure to add ‘Wild’ to your reading list before it hits cinemas in January 2015.
Anyone affected by grief will be touched by this year’s Man Booker Prize winner from Richard Flanagan. The story about the Burma Death Railway was inspired by and dedicated to his father, who survived the railway but died the day the book was finished.
Flanagan worked on the book for 12 years, and it is incredibly personal to him. he said: ‘I grew up, as did my five siblings, as children of the Death Railway. We carried many incommunible things and I realised at a certain point…that I would have to write this book.’
The novel was praised by judges for the ‘beauty of the writing’, and philosopher AC Grayling noted that ‘It is not really a war novel, it is not about people shooting one another and bombs going off. It is much more about people, their experience and their relationships’.
See the longlist for this year’s Man Booker prize, and find out who Richard was up against, here.
Those looking for a darker, more intense read will lose themselves in The Killer Next Door, October’s w&h Reading Room choice from the author of bestseller, The Wicked Girls.
The residents of No.23 in South London have something to hide – all six of them. A horrifying collection quietly waits to be discovered in the gloomy, bedsit-wriddled wreck.
Collette is on the run from her ex-boss, Cher is a children’s-home escapee, lonely Thoimas tries to make friends with his neighbours, and a gorgeous Iranian asylum seeker and a ‘quiet man’ nobody sees try to keep themselves hidden. There for them all is Vesta, a woman who knows everything that goes on in the house…maybe.
One of them is a killer, expertly hiding their pastime, all the while closing in on their next victim…
Sometimes the stories which move you the most are the ones that stay with you forever and we’re tipping debut novel, A Song For Issy Bradley as one of those tales. Already creating a buzz in the literary world and earning rave reviews online, author Carys Bray’s new book is set to win accolades left, right and centre.
Carys is a former Mormon from Merseyside who uses her experience of a strict religious upbringing to bring to life a family who are struck by immeasurable grief. We witness the emotional fallout of a household coming to terms with the sudden death of a young daughter and while their bereavement seems unbearable, writer Carys succeeds in bringing lightness, humour and joy to their lives.
Against the backdrop of a world of dogmatic faith and sometimes suffocating family ties, anyone in mourning can relate to this desperately honest portrayal. Costa Book Awards winner, Nathan Filer has described A Song For Issy Bradley as ‘compelling and profoundly moving’, while our very own Books Editor, Fanny Blake was ‘hooked’ from the first page.
A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (£12.99; Hutchinson)
A tale for anyone who’s fallen in love in an unconventional way. Thirst is the story of Dave and Alena, a couple who meet on a hot summer’s day in a London department store. Alena, however, is up to no good and it’s Dave’s job to catch her.
Kerry Hudson brings us a story of love with a twist – Alena is from Siberia, Dave is from London and together they have pasts, secrets and the inability to either live with or without each other. The quirky love story is both funny and touching, with two people whose lives are worlds apart.
This is Kerry’s second novel after the hugely successful Tony Hogan Brought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.
Thirst by Kerry Hudson (12.99; Chatto)
The brilliant Man Booker-shortisted author, Linda Grant, returns with an evocative portrayal of the 1970s with her new tale Upstairs at the Party.
A glamorous couple known together as Evie/Stevie enrapture a teenage Adele after they appear from nowhere on the campus of her university. To her, they become an obsession with their radical ideas and flamboyant self-expression. But a tragic turn of events at Adele’s 20th birthday party suddenly changes everything.
Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant (£14.99; Virago)
Sarah Rayner’s follow up to her international bestseller One Moment, One Morning has been acclaimed as one of the top reads for 2014.
Another Night, Another Day picks up the story of Karen back in Brighton and follows the journey of herself, Abby and Michael as they deal with the bittersweet heartbreaks of life.
Karen is about to lose her father, Abby is struggling with the care of her autistic son and Michael is on the verge of bankruptcy. Each one sinks under the strain and eventually they all end up being brought together at the Moreland’s Psychiatric Clinic. Here the secrets are divulged and the deep friendships develop. An irresistible read.
Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner (£5.99; Picador)
It’s not often that a new novelist lands a seven-figure advance, Radio 4 serialisation and publishing deals for 30 countries, but that’s exactly how former actress, Jessie Burton has burst on to the literary scene.
Her debut novel, The Miniaturist (published on 3rd July) is the tale of an arranged marriage in 17th-century Amsterdam. Our heroine is 18-year-old Nella who is presented with a dolls house by her wealthy merchant husband. Not only is the cabinet-sized creation an exact replica of their home but the talented miniaturist’s tiny creations inside mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways.
This historical love story has the book world capitvated, thanks to Jessie’s fascinating prose and ability to span the centuries with age-old issues such as individual freedoms and the power of money. A page-turning beach read that will have you gripped.
Preorder your copy of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (£12.99; Picador)
A coming-of-age story unlike any other. Author, Claire Bidwell Smith is just fourteen years old when both her parents are diagnosed with cancer, by the time she turns twenty-five, she will be alone in the world. ‘The Rules of Inheritance’ is her memoir, but a morbid tale this is not.
Claire writes about the harsh ups and downs of her life with a brutal honesty that brings a new perspective to loss. She jumps from significant moments in her life with humour and poignancy – that weekend with her mum at college which would turn out to be their last, running away to Europe with her best friend to just be her eighteen-year-old self again, holding down a glamorous first job running around after a demanding magazine editor in LA while her dad is undergoing radiation therapy across town.
This book is a remarkable lesson on how to overcome life’s great hardships, told through the eyes of a young woman who’s dealing with the worst but still forging ahead on her own journey of adventure, happiness and love. You’ll be rooting for her all the way.
Look out for Claire on screen too. Actress Jennifer Lawrence has already snapped up the book’s film rights.
The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith (Headline)
The most captivating book we’ve read in a long time. Author Nathan Filer is a former psychiatric nurse who enrolled on a postgraduate creative writing course last year, where he penned The Shock of the Fall.
His debut novel has already scooped the Costa First Novel Award. A brave, mesmerising tale of one man’s descent in to psychosis following the untimely death of his brother, Nathan provides a powerful insight in to the mind of a mental health patient, also touching on the political issues currently facing the NHS. Fiction at its very best.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (The Borough Press)
Curl up with this fabulous collection of romantic short stories from
some of our favourite novelists writing today. Featuring authors from
Katie Fforde, Elizabeth Buchan and Judy Astley to Carole Matthews, Adele
Parks, Chrissie Manby and our own books editor Fanny Blake
Truly Madly Deeply (Harlequin).
A story of lust, loyalty, and motive, we follow Bertie Wooster on his quest to make the young Georgiana his wife. Disaster unravels as Georgiana is in the ward of Sir Henry Hackwood whom Bertie is staying with.
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson)
Working two jobs single mum Jess is struggling to support her family, a chance meeting brings Ed into the family’s life. Ed is a fireball but one who has time for Jess and her kids leading to a rather unconventional but captivating romance.
Out 27 February
The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (Penguin)
Detective Max Wolf is following the trail of a serial killer as a group of 7 old school friends are brutally killed. Wolfe uncovers a horrific truth that comes at a personal cost.
Out 8 May
The Murder Bag by Tony Parson (Century)
Set in the 1920s Spare Brides follows the post-war existence of 4 women whose lives have been altered by the First World War. As everyone tries to settle back into an ordinary life Beatrice, Ava, Lydia and Sarah experience a moment that changes everything.
Out 13 February
Spare Brides by Adele Sparks (Headline)
Suffering from severe shellshock, Stella Bain remembers little more than how to drive an ambulance and her ability to draw. In a story that takes her to London, Dr August Bridge helps her find the source of her amnesia.
Out 6 March
The Lives of Stella Bain by Anita Shrieve (Little Brown)
Eliza is a woman who was born in the wrong era – with no interest in the social conventions of 1870 she wishes for a different life. An encounter with a showman puts her life in danger.
Out 13 March
The Illusionist by Rosie Thomas (HarperCollins)
A collection of Victoria Hislop’s 100 favourite short stories, you’ll find something for every mood with pieces by Turner Book prize winners, famous wits and rising stars featuring.
The Story by Victoria Hislop (Head of Zeus)
Based on the San Miguel mystery, Frog Music follows the shooting of Jenny Bonnet. Blanche Beunon, a burlesque dancer and a friend of Jenny’s, risks her life to find the murderer. Frog Music looks like a promising and different read.
Out 31 March
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Picador)
Ghost Moth looks at two summers, 20 years apart. The choices Katherine makes in the summer of 1949 come back around in 1969 bringing with them ghosts of the past.
Ghost Moth by Michéle Forbes (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
In her own words, June Brown tells us of her childhood in Ipswich, her days being trained as an actress by the likes of Laurence Olivier, and the tours of The Young and Old Vic that saw her play memorable parts.
Before the Year Dot by June Brown (Simon & Schuster)
The sequel to My Dear I Wanted To Tell You, The Heroes’ Welcome brings back some of the characters we loved. Following on from the war – and the emotional distance that it has caused – realities of a changed life are discovered.
Out 22 May
The Heroes’ Welcome by Louisa Young (HarperCollins)
Five years on from Harry losing his son Dillon, Harry sees an 8 year old boy he thinks is his son, only for him to disappear moments after. An obsession unfolds as Harry’s faith that he will find his son is reignited. His marriage comes under question as secrets unfold.
Out 27 March The Boy That Never Was by Karren Perry (Michael Joseph)
A story of power, gambling and deception, Ace, King, Knave follows the lives of two couples as the women in each relationship uncover some unknown truths about their partners.
Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann (Faber & Faber)
Mr Heming is the pleasant and helpful estate agent with a big secret. Having kept the keys for every house he’s sold, he may well have to open up to save the community…
Out 13 February
A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan (Doubleday)
More a view from an old age than a memoir perhaps, Penelope Lively looks at her past and what her life has become.
Ammonites and Leaping Fish by Penelope Lively (Figtree)
Set in London this novel is based in run down flats and damp rehearsal rooms. Luke, Paul and Leigh set up a radical theatre company introducing us to Nina one of the actresses. Luke recognises the gentle nature of Nina and has to make the decision between honesty and deceit to help her.
Out 1 May
Fallout by Sadie Jones (Chatto & Windus)
As the Battle of Somme begins, we meet four uniformed men, Jean-Baptiste, Frank, Benedict and Harry. All of these men followed very different lives prior to this day and had visions of their future, only to find their paths leading another way.
At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller (Virago)